Tyler Glasnow has pitched in McKechnie Field many times. He spent the entire 2014 season at the High-A level, making all of his home starts at the stadium. But today, when he made his MLB Spring Training debut, there was something completely different about the stadium he was familiar with.
“It definitely felt a lot different,” Glasnow said “It didn’t really feel like the Florida State League or anything.”
He noted that he was nervous, but “a good nervous” heading into his outing. The nerves may have kicked in a little bit during his warmups, when he said he wasn’t very sharp. But any issues he had were settled after his final warm-up throw. He was dominant on the mound, needing only nine pitches to throw a 1-2-3 inning, with two strikeouts.
The level of competition he faced was also much better than what he faced in the Florida State League. He struck out Jose Pirela, who had 24 at-bats in the majors last year, and a full season in Triple-A. He followed that up by striking out left-hander Kyle Roller, another guy who spent most of 2014 in Triple-A. Finally, he faced Rob Refsnyder, who split the 2014 season between Double-A and Triple-A, and got him to fly out to center field.
To recap: Glasnow faced three guys who played in Triple-A last year, with one of them reaching the majors, and he only needed nine pitches to retire the side with two strikeouts. And eight of those pitches were fastball. The one curveball he threw was to put away Pirela, the guy who reached the majors. This all comes from a guy who hasn’t pitched above A-ball, with the exception of his work in the Arizona Fall League this off-season. There’s a reason why he’s one of the top prospects in the game, and the best in the system.
“I got ahead of a lot of guys, and I didn’t really need to throw a changeup,” Glasnow said on his pitch usage. “I wanted to go and throw the curve though as a put away pitch to a righty, because that’s what I’ve struggled with in the past, and I threw it well.”
Some pitchers focus on specific pitches during a Spring Training outing, but Glasnow was just focused on getting outs and throwing like he normally would. And his performance today showed that he was throwing like normal, and getting the normal results. Clint Hurdle praised his one inning after the game, and said he had some nice downhill angle on his fastball.
“It’s his first outing. He showed some composure,” Hurdle said. “He worked with a good rhythm and pace. The fastball was good and firm at a downhill angle. He threw one breaking ball, and it was a good pitch.”
Morton’s Delivery Shows Some Rust
Charlie Morton didn’t have the best outing today, looking a little rusty with his delivery. He was able to generate some weak contact and get some ground balls, but walked two batters in two innings of work.
“I was pleased by that,” Morton said of the grounders. “But obviously I don’t like the fact that I was walking people and falling behind.”
He pitched two scoreless innings, but needed 40 pitches to get through those innings. That’s a high number, and was pretty much close to the max that he had to work with today.
“I look over, I saw Ray [Searage] getting a little nervous,” Morton said about his high pitch count.
A lot of the issues today were about timing, and repeating his delivery. Morton talked about the small things that were difficult early in Spring Training, like staying back, getting his hand up in the back at the same spot, and other things that need work early in camp. Add to that the fact that Morton has missed a lot of time with his hip injury, and it just makes things more difficult.
“If you can repeat your delivery, that simplifies everything,” Morton said. “You can make adjustments on the fly. But when your delivery is changing, like it does sometimes early in Spring, that’s when the difficulties arise. Because you’re dealing with, not just the fact that it’s early and there’s a little rust there, but you’re trying to compete with a delivery that’s different, pitch to pitch.”
The hip was tested when Morton covered first base on a ground ball by Jacoby Ellsbury.
“That guy’s not slow either,” Morton said. “But no pain, which is awesome.”
Clint Hurdle said that Morton is staying on track to be ready by Opening Day. Morton joked after the game that he’s going to need to throw strikes before they’ll want him in the rotation. He was focused mostly on the fastball today, and wasn’t planning on throwing any curveballs. However, he ended up throwing one curveball, which locked up a left-handed hitter. He will probably continue working on the fastball command from here.
“I actually threw a couple of decent pitches,” Morton said of the sinker. “I threw a front door to a lefty, which I didn’t think I had yet. Then I ended up throwing a bunch that were close to completely missing [Chris Stewart].”
**Francisco Liriano said after the game that he’s trying to stay healthy this Spring. He dealt with the right arm injury in 2013, and had a groin injury in 2014. Liriano said the key was just keeping to his routine. He went two shutout innings today, and Hurdle liked where his fastball was.
“I think Liriano showed good finish to his fastball,” Hurdle said. “He had the ball inside. Threw some good changeups and sliders.”
**Hurdle also mentioned that Clayton Richard has the best pickoff move for a left-hander that he has seen since he’s been here.
**I was impressed with the defense of Sean Rodriguez at second base today. He left his feet several times, diving to stop a few balls, and coming close to making a few highlight reel plays.
**Here is the lineup for tomorrow night’s game in Tampa.